She is a hundred years old Or sixty A slow tortoise Slogging down a tawny beach With a hundred colors Slung over her shoulders Across her back Tied in a jangly turban on her head Gems and stones Some fake some real All them discovered and Threaded together By weathered brown hands One piece sold Means a tortilla to eat Two pieces a slight lunch Three or four a miracle Under parasols And palm trees The lazy lucky rich ones Shoo her away Time and time again While the tortoise goes on Her babies And their babies And their babies' babies Starving at home Mewling for milk Gasping for air The sounds out of their mouth Sheer as a frail scarf A hiss Almost as if they're repeating The same word over and over— Silver Silver Bring me silver, please?
Stealing baby formula Is not as easy as you think The aisles have eyes The racks are cameras The junk food wrappers are a caravan of spies Stealing baby formula in a mercado Is a ticket to a barred room Beatings Separation anxiety Revisiting motives But the baby formula is here And the baby is way over there Where you left it The clerk has a gun beneath the counter The floor is slick with spilled soda Leftover blood And piss The air spiced like tamales Flood lights buzzing Flickering like lightning or Morse code And still you do it Stuff and run Fast as a frightened gecko Never turning back Not sure if The gunshots are real Or imagined Each twhack! a reminder that You're under constant attack That, thank God, Or thank someone, You've at least Made it this far
Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State and an editor at the online magazine Literary Orphans. His work appears widely in print and online journals. His story collection, The Dark Sunshine, debuted from Connotation Press in 2014. You can also find him at lenkuntz.BlogSpot.com